by Mike Masnick
Thu, Nov 15th 2007 9:21am
Against Monopoly points us to yet another article highlighting a ridiculous end result of excessive intellectual property laws. You're probably familiar with the name John Dillinger, the famed bank robber who was eventually gunned down outside a Chicago movie theater. Apparently, his grand-nephew is now claiming rights over John Dillinger's name, threatening to sue anyone who refers to Dillinger as a killer or trying to profit off of Dillinger's name. This for a man who died over 70 years ago. This idea that someone's name is "owned" by someone else, seems pretty ridiculous, but is the result of a misreading on an already bad Indiana law on privacy rights. The law was passed in 1994 and only applies to people who died after 1994 -- meaning that Dillinger isn't covered. Also, courts have been striking back against such laws, noting that they're problematic when they end up limiting free speech or giving someone ownership over how factual information can be used. This is an unfortunate result of too many in our society believing that ideas and information can somehow be "owned" and controlled.
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